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Coincidence: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – February 18, 2014
The Amazon Book Review
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Ironmonger’s first novel published in the U.S. charts Azalea Lewis and her complicated family across the British Isles and East Africa. The unlikely organizing principle is the seeming inevitability of disaster on Midsummer’s Day, a fatal date across several decades. Although Ironmonger uses multiple characters and points of view, the novel centers on a love story between Azalea and an academic, Thomas Post, whose research focuses on probability. Ironmonger’s prose is easy to follow, even with his peripatetic approach. His extended discussions of free will flirt with big questions, though the playful sparring stops short of challenging the reader. Ironmonger is at his best when he’s able to link the various stories in a manner that’s neither forced nor indulgent, in a modest but nevertheless lyric style: “That fisherman would be the son of a fisherman, and he the son of another, and so it would go back into the past and perhaps into the future as if the pages of the book had already been written.” --Kevin Clouther
“Playful, inventive, and fast-paced, COINCIDENCE sweeps you up and carries you along. . . The droll, sharp-witted narrator spins this tale with the lightest of touches, all the way to its perfect ending. I adored this book.” (Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of ORPHAN TRAIN)
“In COINCIDENCE, J.W. Ironmonger takes the reader on an amazing journey. . . Read this brainy, delightful novel.” (Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY)
“A haunting, lyrical meditation on how fates are woven together, for better or worse.” (Simon Van Booy, author of THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS)
“Ironmonger spins another nimble tale. . . It’s a feat of cleverness. . . A fast, captivating read.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“A heady, seductive novel. . . Ironmonger does a masterful job of folding the stories together. . . He ties his complicated plot elements together brilliantly, leaving the reader entirely satisfied with all outcomes. A compelling story.” (Shelf Awareness)
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On Midsummer's Day (June 21), 1982, three-year-old Azalea Ives is found wandering in the midst of a fair in the United Kingdom. With no sign of any parental figures, and her being too young to provide information about her family or where she lives, she is entered into the foster care system and eventually adopted by teachers Luke and Rebecca Folley.
Ten years later, on June 21, 1992, Azalea's adoptive parents are killed in Uganda, part of an uprising led by notorious warlord Joseph Kony.
The confluence of these events, and the fact that other things have occurred in Azalea's life more than once, has led her to believe that on June 21, 2012, she will die as her mother and adoptive parents before her. She seeks out Thomas Post, a professor specializing in the study of coincidences, to see if he can shed some light on her fate. Post believes that life happens randomly, but the more he gets to know Azalea and learns about how her life has unfolded, the more he starts to wonder—and worry if she might be right about meeting her death on that same day.
Coincidence spans from 1982 to the present, from the United Kingdom to Uganda. It's a tremendously intriguing book that debates whether fate has a hand in determining the course of our future, and whether there is anything that can be done if we believe that to be true. It's also a book about whether you should live your life for the moment instead of worrying about what your fate might be, and how emotions trip up our rational thoughts.
I enjoyed the premise of this book, and liked when it focused on Azalea's story throughout the years and her uncovering the many similarities or coincidences in her life. However, I felt the book spent a little too much time laying out her family's time in Uganda and Joseph Kony's reign of terror (although some of it is explained later in the book) and that took away from the power of the story. I also felt in trying to lay out an argument about whether coincidences really do exist, the book got a bit technical and heavy-handed.
At its heart, this is a powerful, emotional story. I just wish the actual story got more attention than the message the book was trying to convey. But it's still very fascinating, especially if you believe in coincidences.
The story begins with a 3 year old Azalea, being abandoned at a seaside amusement park by her mother on June 21st a midsummers day in 1982 and from that day on she will encounter many coincidences, both with that date, but with other things as well, but are they fate?. She is later adopted and goes to live on a mission in Uganda, at a time when the Lord's Resistance Army, and Joseph Kony were in full swing, things that happen there bring her back to England at 13 years of age. Years later while teaching in in the same University as Thomas, she seeks him out as as he is known for his study of coincidences and scientifically figuring them out. The book goes back and forth, from 1982 to present day and it is a story that makes you think about a lot of thing. Great story telling and a book I wish had gone on a bit longer. I will let you discover the coincidences in this book instead of telling you about them.